Should BMW Keep Building Niche Cars?

Others | December 8th, 2014 by 12
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BMW has taken much heat, these past few years, for creating odd-ball cars that fill niches that BMW themselves seem to have created. For example; …

BMW has taken much heat, these past few years, for creating odd-ball cars that fill niches that BMW themselves seem to have created. For example; BMW created the X6, a “Sports Activity Coupe”, a car segment which, until then, didn’t exist.

Now, say what you will about the X6, but sales of it skyrocketed, regardless of the fact that it was hopelessly impractical, and wasn’t really any good at being an SUV or a sports car or even a luxury, for that matter. People seemed to love it. Yet, enthusiasts were bemoaning the fact that BMW was straying from its roots and answering questions nobody had asked. BMW’s had both success (X6, 6 Series Gran Coupe) and failure (5 Series GT) with this approach, and is continuing this, niche creating, trend today. Are the folks in Munich genius’ or madmen?

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BMW’s most recent attempt at this has been the X4, a car that while actually quite good, is creating a lot of head-scratching in the motoring world. Many publications, like Car and Driver and Motor Trend, seem to think that, while not bad, the car just doesn’t have a real purpose. By real world, actual vehicle usage, it doesn’t. But what it does do is create a want. People want something different and weird and cool, regardless of its obvious irrelevance.

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The X3 is easily more practical and useful, while the 3 Series is the far better performer, but the X4 seems to blend both. Something of that nature had never existed before and until now people never knew that’s what they wanted. BMW created that want. Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”. People don’t know what they want until you show them.

Customers aren’t the only ones who are taking notice, either. News has just broke about Mercedes-Benz making a, X6-fighting, GLE Class. BMW also created the X1 which, despite me liking it quite a bit, isn’t any more practical or useful than a 3 Series Wagon, yet it prompted Audi and Mercedes to create the Q3 and GLA Class, respectively. So, obviously, what BMW is doing works well enough to create competitive segments.

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I’ll admit, I was one of those pitchfork-holding enthusiasts, claiming BMW is losing sight of what they do best. But then I realized that BMW is making a boatload of cash selling these impractical-yet-interesting, niche-creating cars. And with all of that money, they can afford to create some of the best performance cars on the road (2 Series, M3/M4, M6 Gran Coupe) and develop some of the most technologically advanced, ecologically-minded cars (i3/i8). So my hope is that, despite some of the silliness that can come out of this trend, it continues. This way BMW can afford to make the cars that matter to enthusiast while simultaneously creating the future.

Despite the bemoaning of enthusiasts and journalists, BMW may just be a bunch of geniuses.

 

12 responses to “Should BMW Keep Building Niche Cars?”

  1. Rokie888 says:

    …BMWBLOG, find someone has a better understanding of the Auto Industry and BMW to write post…

  2. T says:

    The problem that the media use when criticising the ” niche” factor especially with BMW is that it is from a myopic view that is essentially viewed from the US perspective ignoring the fact that BMW is a global company. The “niche” models are termed as failures but overlook the fact they suit other markets and in case of the GT they are low volume and sell within their targets : 5er GT at 10% of all 5er sales although the 3er GT is exceeding its target because of immense popularity in Europe. Sales of the X4 are on fire at the moment having had a very good global response. The new X6 is imminent.

    Far from failure in early 2015 we will see a concept that provides a vision for the next GT series it will also showcase Incoming Fuel Cell technology. In regards to niche products more are on the way not only from BMW but other manufacturers are coming with similar products.

    The media (not necessarily BMW Blog) just want M cars. They have to understand that X models etc generate their development and that this is what the market wants , demographics have changed and customers want more from their vehicles. Connectivity and Efficiency have changed the landscape and register as top requested elements within any automobile today.
    The enthusiast for any premium manufacturer is outmatched by new customers. Its the progression of the industry and you either adapt or die. Those that forgo those changes whether in product or customer demand will not progress if they stand still.

  3. varun colbert says:

    lot of people (including me) probably don’t need these niche products…and probably these cars don’t make sense to them…but that doesn’t mean these shouldn’t exist….a lot of people (not including me) don’t care about manuals anymore and probably manuals don’t make sense to them. so should manuals not exist too ?? let BMW make these and whoever cares about them would buy them. why discuss about it.

  4. jason bourne says:

    BMW should stop building niche cars… They’re diluting their brand’s reputation, among other things.

  5. Roland Renno says:

    Interesting write-up.

    I think BMW are creative in the auto-industry but they are not focusing anymore on their solely reason why they reached success: sports cars. The engines of the M3 and M5 from the past won many awards in the International Engine of the Year, from best performance engine to best engine in its segment. Today newer engines are built and are no lesser than their predecessors, but if they don’t do wonders in their 10-20 years ahead, then they’re lesser. Technology has evolved exponentially and enthusiastic drivers want to have in their car’s engine bay one heck of a beast with the whistle and bells that we all once-know in addition to the technology that BMW is seeking and pioneering at. As a matter of fact, this isn’t happening anymore and instead BMW is focusing more on the family car business that suits less their fans while suits more everyone else.

    ///M

  6. 318ti rwd powerslide says:

    BMW is building cars for the wrong type of self indulgent asshole. They should be building light, nimble, outrageously fast niche cars that self indulgent assholes use to slice and dice through traffic.

    They should not be building SUVs and other garbage for just plain self indulgent assholes.

  7. […] volume of companies like Toyota and General Motors. BMW’s higher profit margins and increased niche vehicle lineup have kept BMW up in the higher echelons of the automotive industry for quite some time now. […]

  8. […] is famous for its niche-busting ways, putting out SUVs, SAVs, Coupe SUVs and any other sub-genre of vehicle BMW can think of to […]

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